Abducted by the security forces, held incommunicado and tortured: this was the fate of Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahrain Teachers Union, during the Arab Spring of 2011. He’s now serving a 5 year jail sentence; he’s denied medical care, and his health is deteriorating. In neighbouring United Arab Emirates, Dr Mohammed Al Roken, a well known and respected human rights lawyer, is in the second year of a 10 year sentence which effectively silences a voice speaking out in defence of human rights.
For our monthly action on their behalf we sent messages of solidarity and signed a petition to keep up pressure on the authorities.
Andy Moody, Amnesty’s UK China co-ordinator, talked to us on China’s poor record on human rights under the current regime, and its heavy use of the death penalty.
He spoke of three major dissidents, including Liu Xiabo, a prominent writer and academic, currently jailed. In 2010 Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, despite threats by China to Norway if the award went ahead. No one was able to receive it on his behalf; his empty chair stood on the stage during the award as mute testimony to his achievements.
We hope to ‘adopt’ another Chinese prisoner of conscience, Liu Ping. A member of the New Citizens’ Movement, a peaceful network of activists, she is serving a 6 year jail sentence.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 9th June at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. Do join us to find out more about our work.